The owners of a clothing store straddling the border between Belgium and the Netherlands have been forced to close half their shop and cordon it off to halt the spread of the coronavirus – while cheerfully keeping the part on Dutch territory open for business.
The Zeeman store in the municipality of Baarle-Nassau, where the border splits streets in half, took the unique approach after the Belgian federal government ordered the shuttering of all non-essential stores.
None of the clothes on the Belgian side of the shop are available for purchase but the half of the store in the Netherlands continues to welcome customers as the Dutch government has only called for social distancing.
A cordon has been erected within the shop to ensure that customers respect the national measures.
Marjon De Hoon, the mayor of the Dutch municipality of Baarle-Nassau, told the Dutch broadcaster VRT: “The square metres in Belgium just follow the Belgian measures. The square metres in the Netherlands, follow the Dutch measures.”
A spokesman for Zeeman said that many of the big-selling items, including baby clothes, were available on the Dutch side but confirmed that men’s shirts were on the Belgian side and therefore strictly not for sale.
She said: “We show our solidarity with Belgium by keeping our store closed on that side. It is definitely not ideal, but we are happy that we can now provide customers with the necessary things.”
Asked by the regional television broadcaster Omroep Brabant about the availability of the goods on show on the Belgian side, the spokesperson said: “Those people have to [buy] that via the website or another store, unfortunately. These are crazy times, we have looked for a solution in which we can still be of use to society.”